August 19, 2019 at 9:07 am #308561
I’ve been a member for a while and I haven’t posted cause I’ve been trying to figure things out on my own but I can finally admit I’m struggling and I need some help.
So I decided to move to another country for a masters program but to be honest, the decision was based solely on the need to get out of the environment I was in. I grew up in a very strict christian home, a place where “spare the rod and spoil the child” was taken very literally. I grew up fearing my parents and living with so much shame and guilt that I sort of retreated into myself. I am a very emotional and caring person and I remember when I was much younger, even though I was a little bit introverted, I was sort of a tomboy. I would jump on family members and make them uncomfortable in a funny way and form really intimate and beautiful relationships with them but as I got much older, my parents sort of prevented me from going out very often so I hardly made any friends or learnt how to form relationships with people. I spent a lot of time at home (wasn’t allowed to go out), I don’t even know how to ride a bike or swim. Communicating with people was also difficult. I was too scared to talk to my dad that I would get really bad anxiety when he walked into the house. Sometimes, I would run to my room cause I knew I would get insulted or criticized. I couldn’t talk to my mom either cause she would tell my dad every single thing, for the most part, it felt like I was bothering her and if the conversation wasn’t about school, she wasn’t really interested. I made friends at school but I wouldn’t consider them good friends cause I wasn’t allowed to visit them and sometimes, I would get my phone taken so I couldn’t build a relationship with them either. So, I sort of spent all my life alone and became extremely introverted to the point that going out gave me anxiety.
Fast forward several years after, I’ve really worked hard on myself and I’ve sort of accepted that when It comes to my parents, I can’t really ask them to love me a particular way, they’ve sort of loved me how they’re capable of and I love them but I can’t be around them. I don’t see myself forming an intimate relationship with them now or in the future but I always respond to general messages (checking up and all)
The problem I have now is that I find it very hard to form relationships with anyone (friendships and intimate relationships). Anytime someone gets too close, I get really scared and very anxious. Sometimes, I feel like I’m not good enough to have those relationships and it gets very lonely here. I don’t even know how to keep up with people. Sometimes, I get a message from an acquaintance, angry that I haven’t checked up in weeks and I just say to myself that I didn’t even know its been weeks. I’m at point in my life where I’m still trying to engage in activities (I’m taking swimming lessons) and figuring myself out now that I’ve moved to another country but I’m struggling because I get very self conscious and even though people are nice here, it’s like I shame myself into retreating. I just tell myself “they probably hate you” or “you’re nothing” and I just get into this mind-space where its difficult to leave my room for days. I bring myself back up (I recently got a job) but few days later, I start struggling again. It’s like going in circles and I’m not really sure what else to do.
Sorry for the long message. Any and all suggestions are welcome and appreciated.August 19, 2019 at 10:17 am #308577
I communicated with a different member this very morning about the concept of “mental prison”. I will explain how it relates to you, based on the information you provided and my understanding of it:
At home, with your parents, you were in a physical prison. You were stuck there, nowhere else to go and be: “I spent a lot of time at home (wasn’t allowed to go out)”.
You lived in fear of your father, “I would get really bad anxiety when he walked into the house”- he was your prison guard.
“Sometimes, I would run to my room cause I would get insulted and criticized”- you ran to your room for safety from the attacks of insults and criticisms.
You couldn’t talk to your mother because “she would tell my dad every single thing”- she cooperated with your main prison guard. And she didn’t seem interested in anything you told her if it wasn’t about school.
“So, I sort of spent all my life alone and became extremely introverted to the point that going out gave me anxiety”- a child prisoner.
“Fast forward.. I’ve sort of accepted that when it comes to my parents, I can’t really ask them to love me.. I can’t be around them.. forming an intimate relationship with them”- can’t form intimacy with one’s prison guards, the ones who scare you. Fear and intimacy don’t go together.
You no longer live with your parents, but in a different country, but you “find it very hard to form relationships with anyone… Anytime someone gets too close, I get really scared and anxious”- you are now out of the physical prison but in a mental prison- getting out of the physical prison does not free a person from the mental prison.
When you lived with your parents in their house, you really lived (as we all do) in that distance between the ears. Everything that we experience, we experience inside our brain/ body. Living in a different country, you still live in that short distance in between your ears, same place, and so, the physical prison of before, is now your mental prison.
Just as you were scared of your father and your mother, you are now scared of everyone. We project our parents into others.
“I feel like I’m not good enough” – just as you felt all along, as a child.
“it’s like I shame myself into retreating. I just tell myself ‘they probably hate you’ or ‘you’re nothing’.. its difficult to leave my room for days”- same experience- your patents shamed you, their voices in your brain keep shaming you. They communicated to you that they hated you (insulted and criticized you) and that you are nothing (ex., your mother was not interested in what you shared with her, didn’t attend to your fear of your father, but instead supported that fear) and you keep experiencing their hate and neglect and you still find safety in your room.
Personally, I have lived my whole adult life in a mental prison until I started what I refer to as my process of healing. You can call it a process of setting myself free from that mental prison. I am still not completely free, but sometimes I am and I want to be more and more free.
What do you think/ feel?
anitaAugust 19, 2019 at 11:44 am #308583
Thanks so much for responding and taking the time out to explain the concept to me.
I sort of knew my relationship with my parents contributed to the intimacy issues I have but I didn’t know that it’s not enough to just leave that environment physically. Moving here, the first month, I felt amazing, the best I’ve felt all my life but as the months went by, it became increasingly difficult.
I never thought that they’re still speaking to me through the voices in my head and I didn’t realize that my room is my safe haven. I just felt like I was antisocial and the problem was me.
Currently, I’m trying to be patient with myself. I was able to pull myself out of a very bad week. I read a lot of articles, books and I journaled a lot. I feel excited to start work this week and I have a lot of things I want to try but I’m just scared that those voices will return as soon as I step out of the house and I’ll have to start fighting again to get back up.
I really just want it all to end. How are you able to set yourself free from the mental prison?August 19, 2019 at 12:24 pm #308589
You are welcome. “I’m just scared that those voices will return as soon as I step out of the house and I’ll have to start fighting again to get back up. I really just what it all to end. How are you able to set yourself free from the mental prison?”
The voices will return, it is not possible for them not to return. The voices of your parents, their communications to you during your years of childhood, those become recordings in the brain that keep replaying. Sometimes you get a break, as when you first moved away, when something new and exciting happens, but then with a bit of time and nothing-very-new happening, these recordings get replayed yet again (not necessarily the same words they told you, often it is just the distress that gets replayed, or a series of thoughts that get replayed so quickly, you don’t “hear” the specific words.
How am I able to set myself free from this mental prison-
it started with my 2011 first quality psychotherapy, first therapist who was a caring, hard working, professional, empathetic, creative therapist. It is not easy to come across such a quality therapist.
It’s been 8 years of an ongoing process for me. More than four years of it are recorded in this very website, in my communications here with hundreds of members. To summarize: it has been an ongoing learning experience, a cognitive and emotional learning experience. This kind of learning is synonymous with healing.
You have to heal from the very distressing experience of growing up in a hostile home. It takes a long time of healing to finally feel safe enough, safe enough to have the courage to open up to life instead of being closed to life, hiding from life, introverted.
It takes limiting or ending contact with people who are harmful to you, it takes being selective as to who you allow into your life and in what capacity (where, when, how, for how long, if at all). It takes experimenting with new things, such as you learning to swim. It takes forming new relationships with people who promote your healing, it takes a whole lot.
You do have to be patient with the process, a process that you have to take on. Lots of work involved, lots of thoughtful choices.
When I started therapy, Mindfulness as a big theme, it is a necessary skill. Learning to be mindful allows you the ability to live in the here-and-now, not in the then-and-there of your childhood.
What do you know about Mindfulness?
anitaAugust 19, 2019 at 1:58 pm #308599
I’ve read about meditation on here and also journaling. I’m somewhat consistent with journaling but I haven’t tried meditation. What are your thoughts on it?August 19, 2019 at 2:37 pm #308607
My therapist at the time, 2011, introduced to me to Mindfulness via a series of Mindfulness guided meditations by Mark Williams. Following in-person sessions, my therapist emailed me homework to do before the next session. Part of each homework assignment was to listen to one of those meditations (they need to be listened to in order: 1, 2 and so on, but not all in one day. Let’s say you listen the first twice a day for a week before going to the second).
If you google Mark Williams guided mindfulness meditations you can probably listen to them, starting with the first one in the series. If you listen and follow the instructions in the first (to sit comfortably, take a deep breath and so forth, let me knows how it goes for you, will you?
August 19, 2019 at 2:39 pm #308609
- This reply was modified 1 month ago by anita.
* didn’t reflect under TopicsAugust 19, 2019 at 3:18 pm #308625
i’ll definitely give it a go. Thanks for the help! I really appreciate it.August 20, 2019 at 4:36 am #308689
May I add that Time is the Great Healer. This had been going on all your life. When you’re 30 it will have been what you have known most of your life. When you’re 40, half your life. Just remember that by the time you get to 50, you will have spent most of your life in the real world, as a regular person. And you will have many more decades to go past then!
As anita said, make sure the people, voices, messages and experiences you let enter your new life are GOOD ONES! Don’t put up with ANY abuse, even if the weasel part of your brain thinks you deserve it. The first time you say NO to criticism, insults and abuse (even from your parents), GOOD people will gravitate towards you. It’s a universal energetic phenomenon.
InkyAugust 20, 2019 at 7:43 am #308711
Thanks for responding and the lovely insight. I will try to be patient with myself through the process. Things have been going pretty well in my life apart from this aspect and I guess part of me just wants it all to get resolved but I know now that it’s a lifelong process. I need to put in the work everyday with meditation that Anita suggested and ensure I don’t backtrack by bringing abusive people into my life like you suggested.
I want to enrol in a pottery class for Fall with hopes that I meet like minded people and maybe make some friends.
De.August 20, 2019 at 7:48 am #308715
I am looking forward to read what you think/ how you feel about the first meditation in the series I suggested. I hope you like the English accent (Mark William’s). I do.
anitaAugust 20, 2019 at 9:58 am #308747
I was able to get the series on Apple Music and I started this morning. It was a bit difficult since my mind wandered off a lot but when I did refocus, I felt very relaxed and at peace. After I was done, it was much easier to get on with my day because I was somewhat more focused than normal on the present and I just feel a lot happier.
I would say that the loud sound at the end of the track made me jump, I wasn’t expecting that haha and his English accent is very soothing.
De.August 20, 2019 at 1:38 pm #308771
Excellent report. Keep listening then to the one you listened to later, in the evening maybe, whenever is comfortable for you. Sometimes it will not feel as good as it did this time, maybe it will seem boring to you. But don’t give up. I would say once a day is good enough and if you want to listen to it more than once a day, do that.
When you are ready you can listen to the next one in the series. Post again anytime about anything and I will be glad to reply to you.